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Sonny’s Blue By James Baldwin


Sonny’s Blue is one of the earliest works of James Baldwin. It was initially published in 1957 and included in the 1965 collection with the title “Going to Meet the Man.” Sonny’s Blue is a story of redemption, community, and suffering. The use of jazz music and blues was notable because it conveyed the importance of self-expression, art, heritage, and communication. Before the reader fully understands what is happening in the story, the use of frightening imagery, like the ice water in the narrator’s veins, suggests that something terrible has happened in the story.

The obligation toward Brotherly love

The mother of the narrator asks him to look after his brother. Since the death of Sonny’s mother, he has been into drugs. The clashes arose, and those became so tense that Sonny actually told his brother to consider him dead from that point on. The narrator turned his back on Sonny, but he did not fulfill the commandment given by his mother to look after your brother. At the end of the story, the narrator takes back his brother from the prison and fulfills the commandment that he will look after Sonny. He consistently watched over Sonny so that he would not get himself again into drugs and stuff.

“Yet, when he smiled, when we shook hands, the baby brother I’d never known looked out from the depths of his private life, like an animal waiting to be coaxed into the light.”

The narrator makes this observation when Sonny gets out of prison. The Prison experience for Sonny was very tough and hellish. The drug addiction experience of Sonny was hell as well. Both these experiences altered Sonny’s life, but he remained the same person from the heart that he had always been. The narrator realizes at this point that what Sonny has become now is somehow his mistake that he did not look after him properly. Sonny is physically free now, but the question remains whether he’s free from that painful drug life or not (Baldwin, 2010). The life at the prison for Sonny was a horrifying experience. He often used to think about what he wanted to become and what he has become now. The narrator somehow realized that if he had given attention to his brother and looked after him in a mature way, things would have been different. At the end of the story, he realizes his fault and is now more focused on fulfilling his responsibility and the commandment given to him by his mother.

“All that hatred down there,” he said. “All that hatred and misery and love. It’s a wonder it doesn’t blow the avenue apart.”

When Sonny got out of prison, he observed the above-stated feeling outside the window and down the street. He just passed out a religious revival that says that even the bigger sins have been forgiven. The story of Baldwin is neither fully amazing nor terrible but a mixture of love and hatred. The avenue Sonny was referring to was one of the important streets of Harlem. Baldwin wrote mostly about it in his story (Baldwin, 2010). Sonny, after serving his imprisonment at the prison, realized that this was not the life he had dreamed of. However, from the inside, he is the same innocent and helping person he was.

For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell; it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.

Sonny’s Blue is a story of suffering and triumph. This claim holds true for the statement that is written above. Baldwin had a strong belief that these were the things he should write about. Throughout his career, he repeated these themes again and again. Each exploration in the story reveals the true hardships and cruelty of life. Art becomes the savior, and Sonny tries this with his music. Music is the symphony of life (Baldwin, 2010). There’s always some light in the dark. In this story, art plays the role of light in the darkness. The narrator now wants Sonny to play his music so that he keeps himself from getting into trouble again.

The Prevalence of Rage and Fury

The narrator of the story repeatedly tells the conceived rage among the people around him throughout the story. Fury and rage are the products with limited opportunities. At the start of the story, the narrator says that his students are “Filled with Rage.” They know exactly about the limited opportunities they have, and that particular rage will destroy their lives. This rage is equally present in the streets of Harlem. The narrator observed “furious” as a man who dropped a change into the bucket of the church. The fury that lies in the daily life of Harlem is clear everywhere, even in the religious revival held on the streets. From the start to the end of the story, music plays an important role in defining the characters of the story. Sonny always wanted to become a musician, but that was certainly not what his brother wanted for him. The music that Sonny played was more focused on the soul.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James, and Jack London. Sonny’s Blues. Difusión, Centro de Investigación y Publicaciones de Idiomas, 2010.



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